American Journal of Law & Medicine

Punitive damages: nursing care providers are not healthcare providers for punitive damages purposes--Covenant Care, Inc., v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County.(Select Recent Court Decisions)

Punitive Damages: Nursing Care Providers Are Not Healthcare Providers For Punitive Damages Purposes--Covenant Care, Inc., v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County(1)--In Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the Supreme Court of California held that claims for punitive damages under the Elder Abuse Act ("Act") are not subject to the procedural prerequisites of section 425.13 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. (2) Plaintiffs, Lourdes M. Inclan and Juan C. Inclan, sought to submit a fourth amended complaint against defendants, Covenant Care California, Inc. and Covenant Care, Inc., more than two years after filing the initial complaint. The amended complaint contained specific allegations of elder abuse, seeking general and punitive damages. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that section 425.13 precluded punitive damages because the motion was filed too late.

The Act applies to situations of elder abuse and neglect both within and outside the healthcare setting. (3) In contrast, section 425.13 applies only to actions for damages resulting from the professional negligence of a healthcare provider. (4) In relevant part, section 425.13 requires that all amended complaints including pleas for punitive damages be filed either within two years of the original complaint's filing or at least nine months before the start of trial, whichever is sooner. …

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